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Homemade Wills - what are the risks?

Homemade wills are notorious for causing bitter disputes and expensive litigation.
Steven Bishop, Founding Partner

“It amazes me that some people do not want to pay a relatively modest amount to engage a lawyer to prepare their will” said Senior Solicitor Steve Bishop.

“It is like surgery with a chainsaw” said Mr. Bishop. “People don’t know the law, so they blunder through, unaware of the issues they are causing.” Sometimes they do not realize that important assets such as superannuation and family trust entitlements cannot even be dealt with in a will.

Blended families, or families with ongoing conflict, can mean either long standing or new resentments often rise to the surface after the death of a parent or stepparent.

“Some of the worst examples of home wills I have seen involve ignorance of the law of ademption”, said Mr. Bishop.

“It is hard to understand why people take risks with such substantial assets when it is their last chance to do something with them” said Mr. Bishop.

There are numerous other problems such as leaving entitled people out of a will, getting confused about proportional divisions, or the order in which they are to be left. Far too many to recite here, but the Law Reports are full of them.

Many people are alarmed by the fact that a Supreme Court Judge can in effect rewrite their will under the Testators Family Law Act. However that Act has limited operation, and a solicitor can give guidance as to how to minimize this risk.

On the other hand, we are experienced at prosecuting such claims, including appealing them to the Full Court.

“We understand making your will is a personal and sometimes emotional process, and that it is difficult to face mortality.

“However, it is a false economy to try to do something yourself that requires expert knowledge” said Mr. Bishop. “That applies whether it is heart surgery or writing a will”.

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